Guangdong party chief Wang Yang said the southern province would use the 'Wukan approach' as a template to reform the governance of villages and townships at the grass-roots level.
Some analysts said Wang's latest remarks, regarding protests last year over land-grabs in Wukan, demonstrated courage and proved he was a liberal-minded modern leader.
In a speech delivered to the provincial party congress on Tuesday, which gave a glimpse of Guangdong province's future policy direction, Wang said an emphasis would be placed on restructuring the province's economy rather than pursuing growth, along with promoting the development of social organisations.
'Guangdong has grown out of an era of high-speed economic growth,' Wang said. 'According to some official calculations, [the GDP growth in] Jiangsu province will outgrow Guangdong by 2017. We do not intend to compete with that. [Jiangsu can] go ahead if [it] wants, we need to prioritise our structural reform.'
Wang said the province was formulating new measures to replace past policy that referred to migrant workers as 'peasant workers', to eliminate discrimination and ease the process of urban integration. He also reiterated his earlier calls to delegate social management power to non-governmental organisations in a bid to improve people's lives.
According to a China News Service report on Tuesday, Wang said the handling of the Wukan incident should be used as a lesson to be studied across the province.
Residents of Wukan, an eastern Guangdong fishing village, held a series of demonstrations from September to December, after local officials sold their land without offering compensation. They were also expressing frustration over the lack of democratic elections. The stand-off escalated after police tried to disperse them using force.
'Guangdong deputy party secretary Zhu Mingguo leading a delegation into Shanwei's Wukan village was not only meant to solve problems in the village, but also to set a reference standard to reform village governance across Guangdong,' Wang was quoted as saying.
This year, Wang said, concrete measures would be taken to address disciplinary problems among local cadres at grass-roots level.
'People's democratic awareness is increasing significantly in this changing society,' Wang said. 'When their appeals for rights aren't getting enough attention, that's when mass incidents happen.'
Commenting on Wang's latest remarks about Wukan and the future policy direction, Beijing-based scholar Hu Xingdou said Wang had proved himself to be a modern leader by allowing a range of participants and negotiations to resolve the Wukan incident.
'I'm not worried this could lead to a sudden rise of revolts in Guangdong, as the people have long been allowed to express their grievances to a certain extent, compared with other inland provinces,' Hu said.
Professor To Yiu-ming of Hong Kong Baptist University's journalism department called Wang pragmatic, saying he had legitimised the Wukan protesters' actions, paving the way for a review of village governance structure. 'Wang demonstrated courage in his latest remarks about tackling problems directly,' To said.